Yeltsin seeks ratification of power-sharing accord Russian leader, foe negotiating pact

February 17, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

MOSCOW -- Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin, all but abandoning a plan to take his case for accelerated reform directly to the people, called yesterday for an emergency parliamentary session next month to ratify a power-sharing accord to be negotiated with his chief political foe.

At a 20-minute evening meeting at the Kremlin, Mr. Yeltsin and Supreme Soviet Chairman Ruslan I. Khasbulatov, the president's conservative nemesis, agreed to give their envoys 10 days to hammer out an agreement to end Russia's constitutional crisis and paralysis of power.

The rival leaders were to exchange draft proposals today.

Mr. Yeltsin's press secretary, Vyacheslav V. Kostikov, said the president proposed that the Congress of People's Deputies be convened in the first 10 days of March, at the latest, to approve the final plan.

Far from being a dry legal matter, the gist of the bitter Yeltsin-Khasbulatov feud is over what shape Russia's post-Soviet government will have and whether the populist president or conservative-led lawmakers will wield the upper hand in the crafting of pro-market reforms.

Mr. Khasbulatov "wants to turn the Russian president into the Queen of England and transfer all executive power to the government [Cabinet], which should fully obey the parliament," Viktor Bondarev of the pro-Yeltsin Moscow tabloid Kuranty charged.

The crisis erupted last autumn because Mr. Yeltsin's supporters are in a decided minority in the legislative branch, dominated by former Communist Party apparatchiks, their loyalists and vociferous right-wing nationalists.

Russia also is still saddled with a much-amended Soviet-era constitution that grants the president, although elected by universal suffrage, powers inferior to those of the double-tier legislature.

Mr. Yeltsin had wanted to break the resulting government deadlock with a nationwide referendum. A largely hostile Congress, cajoled by Mr. Khasbulatov, gave its assent in December, instructing the two men and Constitutional Court Chairman Valery D. Zorkin to devise a new constitutional balance of power.

But since then, Mr. Yeltsin's followers have had second-thoughts about the wisdom of summoning Russians, fed up with grave economic hardships and power games, to the polls.

To try to abort the referendum idea, Mr. Khasbulatov proposed on Monday asking Russians, point blank, if they trust the president.

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